Stern on Wright

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Wright sketched several pictures of Broadacre City, and with his students built a large model showing what a typical area might be like. Some views can be found on the web through Google's image search.

In his numerous plans for Broadacre City, Wright, more than any planner of his time, grasped the opportunities twentieth century technology provided. Wright understood that, thanks to automobiles and the highway system, the entire continent could be suburbanized, farm and city homogenized into one even-textured development pattern as the final fulfillment of the Jeffersonian dream of a continuously grided, continuously -- but sparsely -- settled agrarian paradise. . . . Freed from the fixed centers mandated by the location of railroad stations, Wright devised a grided network of superhighways parceling out communities whose property was also grided so that every family would own at least one tillable acre of land. There, modern office and factory workers would exchange the oppressive vitality of city life for the rural life, which labor-saving devices had rendered a far more liberating, if duller, experience than Jefferson had ever imagined. Wright envisioned a new settlement pattern that would take full advantage of developing systems of transportation, including family-owned aerial machines, which he called gyros, forever dispensing with the need for concentrated development. . . .

Broadacre posed a fundamental contradiction. The chief deficiency in the creed of decentralization was that when everybody moves to the country, all the benefits of the country disappear. Wright argued that in Broadacre City, "the country is not spoiled, because quality in building comes into the picture to save it from destruction. You can build an organic house and it will not spoil anything; so you could build an organic city out in the country and not harm the country." But architecture can only go so far and as the reality of Sunbelt suburbia spread, Wright's theme of "the disappearing city" was joined by one of the disappearing country as well. Stern 1986, 150-1